Record Details

Steinmetz, R.;Chutipong, W.;Seuaturien, N.;Chirngsaard, E.
Community structure of large mammals in tropical montane and lowland forest in the Tenasserim-Dawna Mountains, Thailand
Journal Article
elevational variation;habitat use;montane forest;semi-evergreen forest;sexual segregation;ungulates;sexual segregation;habitat use;seasonal forest;seed dispersal;national-park;management;diversity;patterns;conservation;philippines
Montane evergreen forest in SE Asia is structurally and floristically different from lowland habitats. The response of large mammals to this variation is largely unexplored. We used sign transects to compare community structure of large mammals in montane (> 1100 m), and lowland (< 1100 m) forest types over 4 yr in western Thailand. Relative abundance of most ungulate species was significantly higher in lowland forest, except for elephant (Elephas maximus) and tapir (Tapirus indicus), which were most abundant in montane forest (based on chi-square tests of sign encounter rates). Sexual segregation was apparent for gaur (Bos gaurus): breeding herds were concentrated in the lowlands, whereas single males were most abundant in montane forest. Large cat abundance was similar in both elevation zones. Tapir, single gaur, and bears (Ursus spp.) characterized the montane mammal community whereas most other ungulate species and social groups were indicative of lowland forest (based on discriminant function analysis). Results pertain only to the dry season; seasonal movements could alter the patterns we observed. Differences in community structure between elevation zones are hypothesized to result from differences in habitat structure, resource availability, and human impacts. Lowland forests provide bamboo, grass, and mineral licks, probably accounting for higher ungulate densities despite higher levels of hunting. These resources are scarce in montane forest. However, montane forest functions as a refuge for at least three globally threatened large mammal species, because commercial hunting is concentrated in the more accessible lowlands.
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